This blog is by Ashish K. Dayama at Nokia Networks.
Beamforming is a multiple antenna technology and yes, it can be a bit of a mystery. It’s a complex task to get a beam focused on the end user, versus a straightforward broadcast signal that emits everywhere. The benefits are certainly worth it though, with users experiencing better signal quality and higher throughput: the stuff of great customer experience.
Beamforming can also help improve performance at the cell edge, where it’s difficult to get a good signal. Yet, even with beamforming techniques there’s an additional risk of interference from other cells, as two neighbouring base stations could assign the same radio frequency resources to end users. This wouldn’t matter if the users aren’t close to each other, but it’s often the case when they’re at the cell edge boundary. The result is then harmful interference, which translates into a worse customer experience, not a better one.
This is where the new 8 Transmit Coordinated Beamforming feature of Nokia’s Intelligent Beamforming for TD-LTE can help. Unlike any beamforming technique used today, it allows base stations to coordinate their activities and uses different radio resources to form the beams, thus avoiding interference. Trials with a Chinese operator have shown that the technique can improve the gain by 50%.
The main advantage for end users is that they enjoy the same high throughput experience wherever they are – in the middle of the cell or at its edge – so their applications continue to work uninterrupted. For the operator, the gain can be translated into capacity or coverage improvement, meaning either more users or wider coverage. As LTE sites run at full capacity from day one, this Coordinated Beamforming feature will help operators dramatically reduce the congestion.
Where interference is not a serious concern, however, the base stations can opt to switch off the 8 Transmit Coordinated Beamforming feature and use other existing Nokia Intelligent Beamforming methods. This allows the base station to save on radio frequency resources, reduce processing power and in some cases also optimize the power consumption. The key is to know which one to use and when. Nokia’s Intelligent Beamforming solutions offer dynamic switching between techniques to ensure that the right technique is always used for the prevailing conditions.
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